News By/Courtesy: Athul Joseph | 29 Jun 2020 21:44pm IST

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Amidst all the tensions between the neighbours, China holds a huge chunk in India's sport franchises
  • Chinese brands such as Vivo and Oppo sponsor major leagues in India
  • alls for boycotting all Chinese products may be hard to implement in a hurry on the field of play

Suspended 75 feet above the ground with the aid of ropes, former Chinese gymnast Li Ning 'flew' around the circumference of the Bird's Nest and illuminated the Olympic Cauldron; dramatically, the 1984 Games six-time medallist kicked off the 2008 edition in Beijing.

That night, Li’s eponymous sportswear brand also aimed for the stars. At the Beijing Games, only the Chinese gymnastics team was dressed by the Li-Ning company. According to a research paper released by marketing firm MEC Global, after Ning 's opening acrobatics, the company's market value rose 6 percent overnight, and there was a 20 percent increase in its brand recall, the highest in a sector that also included Nike and Adidas.

 Li-Ning made a big jump in the Indian industry, more than ten years later. Last February they signed a four-year record deal for an Indian badminton player, PV Sindhu as their brand ambassador for Rs48 Crore. Six months later, Sindhu took World Championship victory. Li-Ning soared, signing a two-year multi-crore contract with the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) that included funding the apparel of the Indian athletes at the 2018 Asian Games and Olympics in Tokyo. Also, they signed on a handful of Indian badminton players, including Kidambi Srikanth (for four years of Rs 35 crore) and Parupalli Kashyap. But as Li-Ning 's share of the Indian market grew rapidly, twenty Indian army personnel were killed at the Indian-China border in Galway, Ladakh, and eventually, the events of June 15 led to a growing clamor to ban Chinese products in that region. Following Galway, the IOA claimed it was open to reviewing its deal with Li-Ning, just as the BCCI had called a high-level meeting to discuss their ties with the IPL's title sponsor, Vivo – a Chinese telephone company. The gatherings are all good and good. But in an age of complex patterns of stakeholding, can one identify the nationality of a company? So what is the real scale of Chinese sports equipment imports into India?

It's not just the sports market that has experienced a growing influence from China. Bilateral trade between India and China stood at $84.3 billion, between January and November 2019. And the greater the Indian influx of Chinese goods, the greater the use of sports as a medium to advertise their wares. Chinese businesses got this well known. Vivo, for example, retained the title sponsorship of the IPL for five years with a ~2199 crore bid. "This is an improvement of 554 percent over the previous deal," the BCCI said in a statement afterward. While Vivo has also paid ~ 300 crores for five years to command the Pro Kabaddi League's title sponsorship rights, their rivals Oppo outstrip them to become the main shirt sponsor for the Indian cricket team in 2017. "The world's Oppos and Vivos are producing cell phones for the people. And what better way than cricket India's mass game-to collect eyeballs? Investing that kind of money to get the scope they are looking for is then a no-brainer. Oppo, by the way, did not see their five-year contract with the Indian team through and was replaced by Byju's in 2019 – an online learning business that is seen to be completely Indian. Yet that is not so. Byju's, founded by Byju Raveendran in 2011, has many investors from around the world. Including Tencent, a holding company for Chinese multinational conglomerates. Reasoned to mark a home-grown business like Byju's 'Chinese' based solely on its investors? If so, then the Indian cricket list for these investments is very long. Paytm, India's title sponsor for international and domestic cricket matches has seen more than $600 million from the Alibaba Group of China. In 2018, Tencent saw $100 million in funding from Dream11, an online gaming company and official partner of both the BCCI and the IPL. Dream11 is likewise an official Indian Super League affiliate.

THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT INTEND TO HURT THE SENTIMENTS OF ANY INDIVIDUAL, COMMUNITY, SECT, OR RELIGION ETCETERA. THIS ARTICLE IS BASED PURELY ON THE AUTHOR'S PERSONAL VIEWS AND OPINIONS IN THE EXERCISE OF THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT GUARANTEED UNDER ARTICLE 19(1)(A) AND OTHER RELATED LAWS BEING FORCE IN INDIA, FOR THE TIME BEING.

Section Editor: Pushpit Singh | 30 Jun 2020 8:00am IST


Tags : China Sports

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